Universal immunization with Hepatitis B: Keeping up with the Joneses


Puliyel J, Amit Kumar

Universal vaccination of all in the UK with Hepatitis B vaccine will reduce the yearly incidence of new cases of chronic carriers by a mere 4%. 96% of the burden of disease results from disease in immigrants who will not be helped by universal immunisation in the UK. Although these stark facts are widely known (1), in the space of a little more than a year, we have had two editorials in the BMJ, (authored by individuals with declared conflict of interests) suggesting that the UK government must adopt a policy of universal immunisation (2, 3). The latest editorial (3) says that 168 countries worldwide and 44 of 52 countries in WHO's European region have already implemented this policy.

It will be interesting to see at what critical mass of editorial badgering, the government will be persuaded against its better judgement, to undertake this wasteful programme � just to keep up with the Joneses


1. Foundation for Liver Research. Hepatitis B: out of the shadows. London, Foundation for Liver Research, 2004. www.ucl.ac.uk/liver- research/hepatitis-report.pdf

2. Beeching NJ Hepatitis B infections BMJ 2004; 329: 1059-1060

3. Banatvala J, Damme PV, Emiroglu N. Hepatitis B immunisation in Britain: time to change? BMJ 2006;332:804-805

Competing interests: None declared